Using CAD Software to Model Cartoon Characters

When you think of students learning 3D design, the first thing that usually comes to mind is robots. That’s because STEM programs tend to focus on designing and building robots that crawl across school workbenches, floors, and hallways.

But at Hudson High School in Hudson, MA, students in Ryan Dailey’s class opted to go a more animated route, literally. They’re using Creo to design 3D models of beloved cartoon characters, including SpongeBob SquarePants, Squidward Tenticles, Plankton, Stewie Griffin, Piglet, Homer Simpson, minions, and even Pokemon. (Ask your kids if none of these ring a bell.)


Student 3D design of minion.


Minions in 3D – one of the many characters created by Hudson students.


Piloting Creo

Dailey’s students are enrolled in a class called Introduction to CAD in which they learn CAD basics, specifically, Creo Parametric.

Dailey had worked with the PTC Academic Program on a variety of activities, including an internship one summer and as a teacher fellow in the STEM Certificate program. A conversation with Ayora Berry, an instructor at PTC, led to a suggestion to have Dailey’s students try a new certification program in Creo.

“It was a no brainer,” says Dailey. “I jumped at the opportunity to have my students pilot the program.”


Student 3D Design: Patrick

Patrick Star comes to life, thanks to students and Creo.

In toon with CAD

So where did the cartoon characters come from?

As part of the course, the students visited with Jordan J. Cox, SVP Global Academic Programs, and Alyssa Walker, an instructor at PTC University. The PTC team demonstrated a model of a cartoon squirrel, talked to the students about how to make it, and mentioned a new curriculum about designing cartoon characters.

From there, the students were sold on visions of designing and manufacturing their own favorite toons.

“On the ride back to Hudson, I talked to the kids and they all wanted to make cartoon character with Creo,” says Bailey. “It sounded like fun and was different from what they had seen and been working on through the course.”

So students chose a favorite character and began working on modeling them in Creo.


Student 3D Design: Mr. Potato Head

You know him, you love him: Mr. Potato Head


Creo: Ease of use

The students took the self-paced certification course through the PTC University. But even though they all worked independently, they shared many of the same experiences. For example, when students built their first assembly with constraints, Bailey says most had a similar “a-ha!” moment when figures did what they were supposed to do once they started moving.

The next generation of engineers

The students will continue to make parts, assemblies, and drawings in Creo and will spend the rest of the year applying the skills that they gained for a series of projects.

Dailey says the software was very easy for the students to learn. “I think many of them struggle at times with which tool to use for what purpose and that has led at times to some frustration, says Dailey. “But in general they have found the software to be user friendly.”


Student 3D Design: Piglet

Piglet comes to life – Disney would be proud.


You can see all of their projects (including some of the 3D printed models) here:

Try it yourself

From kindergarten to university, students can download Creo Parametric free. Work with state-of-the-art 3D CAD software, to take ideas and concepts and turn them into products. Creo offers the best preparation to become an Engineer of the Future, by putting design, analysis, and simulation tools directly in the hands of students. Download a free student edition of our product design software here and start bringing your ideas alive today.  


Chris Alvarez used Creo while still in high school to design the CometCam, a device to keep video cameras steady during filming.